Ex-NFL groundskeeper George Toma, 94, claims Super Bowl turf was OVERWATERED before the game by the league’s field director after players slipped… and ‘The Sodfather’ accuses him of not sanding the surface enough
Longtime NFL “Sodfather,” George Toma, spoke out for the first time since the playing surface at Super Bowl LVII was criticized – saying the field had been badly watered and scoured leading up to the game.
Players for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles were caught slipping on the turf of Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, with the field showing noticeable wear as the game progressed.
Speak against ESPNretired 94-year-old Toma gave his thoughts on why the pitch was in such a bad shape while reaffirming that he is done helping the league in the future.
Toma revealed that the playing surface was watered on the Wednesday morning of the match week before being immediately moved to the stadium – where it remained for four days.
He believes the field should have been watered at the same time but left outside to dry in the Arizona desert sun before going indoors for the last time.
Former NFL groundskeeper George Toma pointed fingers after the Super Bowl turf fell apart
Toma said the decision came down to NFL field director Ed Mangan, who took charge of the field for the Super Bowl and used to work under “the Sodfather.”
“So, what he does, he wets it all over and puts it right in the stadium and that’s it. Never see sunlight again. He can’t,’ Toma explained.
After the field was brought in, rehearsals for the various Super Bowl appearances—including the halftime show—were done on the grass, which was covered with a tarp for protection.
However, in the heat and with all the moisture underneath, Toma said he was told the field under the barrier was starting to rot – adding that the field ‘had a rotten smell’.
In addition, Toma said that Magnan had not sufficiently sanded the field and that he did so too late for the game.
“He sanded it two weeks late,” Toma claimed. “He’s only had one sanding. It should have been sanded two or three times, but it didn’t do s—.
‘And that was it. And not only that, he didn’t take care of it. He wouldn’t listen to anyone.’
In a statement the day after the game, the NFL said, “The field surface at State Farm Stadium met required standards for the maintenance of natural surfaces, per NFL policy. The natural grass surface was tested during Super Bowl week and met all required NFL practices.”
Toma says NFL field director Ed Mangan badly watered and scoured the playing surface
Players were seen slipping all over the pitch and the grass showed visible wear everywhere
Toma had tended the fields at every Super Bowl in history, but confirmed before the game began that Super Bowl LVII would be his last after more than 80 years of ground maintenance.
As if his age wasn’t enough of a sign that it might be time for him to move on, Toma was also the target of online criticism for the poor conditions.
Toma has had it. “I can’t take it anymore,” he told ESPN, adding that the NFL has not responded well to field issues at the Super Bowl in the past.
“Me and the competition are over,” Toma said. “They can’t tell me what to do anymore. Were done.’